News Column

Anne Arundel's $3.3M casino-loan program goes to 21 firms

February 18, 2014

SHANTEE WOODARDS swoodards@capgaznewscom; By SHANTEE WOODARDS swoodards@capgaznews.com

The $3.36 million that made up Anne Arundel County's casino- funded loan program has been used to help launch startups, pay for Legos and other equipment.

The $3.3 million that made up Anne Arundel County's casino- funded loan program has been used to help launch startups, pay for Legos and other equipment.

In May, Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. was named as a manager to the state's small business loan fund. Last month, all of the available funds were allocated through 18 loans and another three have been approved, but are being processed.

AAEDC officials said they will apply to be fund managers again when additional funds become available, which will likely be later this year.

Chris Moore's ZeroedIn Technologies received $250,000 from the Volt Fund and aimed to use it to upgrade software and hire additional staff. The AAEDC reached out to him about the loan and he was drawn to the interest rates, which range from 2 percent to 5.25 percent. The Linthicum company provides workforce analytics and other services.

"It was really good timing because I was considering different ways of growing my company," said Moore, who is the founder and CEO of the company. "I knew that a conventional type of small business loan from a bank or either from the (U.S. Small Business Administration) wouldn't be close to that."

The state's loan program was set up in 2007 when the General Assembly dedicated 1.5 percent of the state's slots revenues for business loans. Until Maryland Live! opened, there was not enough funding for the program.

Outside of the AAEDC, Baltimore'sMeridian Management Group Inc. and Salisbury-based Maryland Capital Enterprises Inc. were named managers of the fund. The state required that half of the fund's investment target small and minority and women-owned businesses within a 10-mile radius of Maryland Live!, Hollywood Park in Cecil County and Ocean Downs in Worcester County.

The loans ranged between $25,000 and $500,0000 and had to be used for real estate acquisition and expansion, improvements on leased property, equipment and vehicle purchase or working capital.

Along with Volt, the funds ranged from $25,000 for the Brick House LLC - a Lego Learning Center in Annapolis - to $265,000 for Duck Cove LLC's startup restaurant Barn 34 in Ocean City. There were 11 Anne Arundel County recipients, which included $150,000 for Roosters Men's Grooming Center in Crofton and $245,000 for Davis' Pub. The Davis' Pub loan has been approved and is still being processed.

Much of the loans were awarded to businesses that were in the startup phase and about 30 percent went to technology companies, said Stephen Primosch, AAEDC's vice president of financial services.

"There's a great need for small business lending throughout the state and throughout the country," Primosch said. "We're doing loans that are outside that traditional banking box, but there still a great need for this type of lending in Maryland."

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Source: Capital (Annapolis, MD)


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